Saints can still win the NFC South Division after a TNF loss
The path for the Rams is entirely based in earning a Wild Card berth. But the Saints, even in a loss on Thursday Night Football, can still win the NFC South Division. If the Saints defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons to close out the 2023 NFL season, they will win their division with a 9-8 record.
The Saints should be a favorite to win against the Buccaneers in Week 17. And it may be that the Saints, who face their division rivals on the week after competing against the LA Rams, may be distracted enough so as not to give the Rams their full attention.
The current NFC South standings hold the Buccaneers in first place due to the Bucs victory over the Saints in their first head-to-head matchup. But that could change if the Saints wins the last two games.
Rams playoff picture is all about winning out
The LA Rams have no path to win the NFC West Division, which is led by the San Francisco 49ers (11-3). Even if the 49ers have a three-game losing streak, they will end the season as 11-6, which is still beyond the Rams ability to match.
And so, the LA Rams may be in control of their own destiny, which is simply another way of saying that the Rams must keep on winning to assure themselves of postseason participation. As soon as the Rams stumble, they open the door to all other 7-7 and 6-8 teams in the NFC (all five of them). With three games remaining on the schedule, and only two games left after Week 16, the pressure in on the LA Rams to produce this week, in this game.
Is it any more pressure than any other game after the BYE? Perhaps, perhaps not. In my experience, the first step is typically the most difficult. Since the Rams defeated the Seattle Seahawks in Week 11, this team has appeared more and more prepared to compete in the NFL Playoffs.
Are the LA Rams a team that nobody wants to face in post season? While we cannot say with any degree of certainty, I would offer the following observations:
- The Rams offense is averaging 30 points per game
- The Rams defense is averaging allowing just 21 points per game
- The Rams have a very balanced offense right now
- The LA Rams are playing with house money. Nobody expected the Rams to do anything this year.
This is a team that is very dangerous because nobody expected the Rams to be good this year. Right now, the LA Rams are winning, and are having as much fun as anyone doing so.
In the end, All-Pros like QB Matthew Stafford, WR Cooper Kupp, and DT Aaron Donald are their most dangerous when they are having fun. Right now, everyone on the Rams roster is having a blast.